ROME (AP) _ Renato Rascel, an actor and songwriter who entertained Italians for more than a half-century and won fame with ''Arrivederci, Roma,'' has died, his family said Thursday. He was 78.

His wife, Giuditta Saltarini, said Rascel died in a Rome clinic Wednesday after a long illness. ''He would have wanted to die on the stage,'' she said.

Born Renato Ranuci in Turin, of a Roman family, he considered himself a Roman and grew up in the capital. He began his career as a teenager, appearing as a clown in revue warm-up acts, and also sang in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel Choir.

After the war, he took his comic interpretations from the stage to the screen, and considered his comedy intellectual - ''tickling the brain, not the armpit.''

Rascel won Italy's national song festival at San Remo in 1960 with ''Romantica,'' but his international fame as a singer came from ''Arrivederci, Roma,'' a nostalgic ode to the city's pasta, wines and views that waiters and strolling minstrels sing to tourists.

Funeral arrangments were incomplete.